Why, I wonder, is it such a curious notion that sometimes in life relationships end? Why is it surprising that sometimes people fade or crash out of our lives as subtly or extraordinarily as they came in? Why does it feel such a weighty idea that human beings cross our paths with a purpose, and when that purpose is served, our paths often divide?
I spent yesterday with my mom, my most favorite person on the face of the earth. I made us lunch and we sat, just chatting. She told me stories and I sat, listening, feet curled beneath me, just watching her talk. Watching her smile, hearing her joy. It’s pretty rad to be grown up and able to hear stories from your mom like you’d hear from a girlfriend. Learn the details of encounters and experiences that I vaguely remember from when I was a child, and understand them with an adult mind.
My mom was telling me yesterday about a relationship she had and we spent the better part of an hour reminiscing on a particular person. This morning, over the phone, we revisited the conversation. I’ve mentioned before that my mom is my greatest spiritual guide, and her wisdom never fails to fortify me. What we kept dancing on was a familiar topic, one that we have discussed many times and one that many great speakers, authors, philosophers and the like have delved into. Relationships; people; why things sometimes end.
What is it about forever that makes us cling, cling like fuzz to fabric and children to parents’ legs? What is it about the concept that turns us into fools, seeing an end, a destination, rather than a journey? What’s so wrong with meeting someone, learning from them and they from you, and then parting ways?
It goes against our romantic grain, that’s what’s wrong with it. But the truth is there’s nothing wrong with the idea, what needs shifting is our perspective. Forever definitely happens, there are plenty of people who meet and know one another forever. Sometimes people mate for life, and there are real life “best friends forever.” But just as magical as those unions are the ones that are fleeting…like bursts of lights, meteors of human interaction. Relationships that last months, or even years, and which turn over unfathomable marvels and truths. Connections that offer us solace, guidance, insight, safety, challenge and growth. Partnerships can lift us up higher than we could have climbed on our own, sometimes they serve as a crutch, always they teach us about ourselves. But what the fairytales didn’t tell us as little kids is that “happily ever after” is not the only way.
What if I told you that tomorrow you would meet the most exquisite human being you’ve ever met, and that you’d know them for eight months, create incredible memories, forge a beautiful bond, and then you would go your separate ways…how would you feel? Probably pretty wounded. Not even having had this experience yet, you might feel disappointment…set up for let down. You might feel afraid to even have this relationship at all. Or, perhaps you’d feel the opposite. Maybe you’d feel a tinge of relief, just knowing it’s not “forever.” Knowing you’re meant to take careful note of the lessons learned in this experience, and carry them with you into your future, with or without this other person.
The truth is, sometimes relationships end. Romances end; the candle burns down or the flame blows out. Sometimes friendships unravel; the threads fray and get woven in elsewhere. Now and again we lose people we don’t want to lose. Sometimes we part ways mutually. Occasionally we do the leaving. Family members, friends, lovers, spouses…of the myriad of human connections we both build and are born into, only some last forever. And that’s how it’s supposed to be. Not every romance should last forever! If they did we’d all still be with our first love and, for many of us, our personal development would be significantly stunted by having missed out on all of the mistakes and masterpieces that were meant to follow.
We hurt so that we can grow. The human body is an expert at healing and regenerating. As is the spirit. As is the heart. As is the mind. We fall in love on a daily basis…with people, sunsets, flavors, feelings, experiences. These little bursts of love are often topped the very next day, when we meet another person, see another sunset, taste another flavor…but does that take any of the brilliance from yesterday’s love? No. Does meeting a new friend take away any of the meaning in a friendship you shared with someone ten years ago? No. Does getting remarried negate the passion and promise that you took into your first wedding? Of course not.
I’m not saying everything is meant to end. I’m a romantic and that’s a terribly pessimistic view. What I’m saying is that, at 25, I’m beginning to wrap my brain around the fact that some things are meant to end. It won’t always be signaled by smoke and flames, either, which can be the hardest part. A friend you’ve grown away from, no fights or toxicity, just a heavy sense that there’s no longer a common light by which to warm your palms. A lover who you know, deep down, is only really a ship in the night. Two souls on very different journeys, hunkered together in a pocket of warmth to weather a blissful little storm, before heading off on opposite paths.
There’s something deeply freeing about the admission that this is life. This is reality. Many of our greatest loves in life are old flames, childhood friends, pets, people to whom we are inexplicably tied for life.
I feel like I keep going in circles trying to explain this, but I guess the bottom line is idealized relationships don’t exist. Real relationships exist. Human beings share interactions for a reason and they end when they’re meant to end. The issue arises when we can’t let go, when we can’t accept that everything happened perfectly, divinely. The only problem lies in the resistance that our beautiful, fragile, exquisite human hearts bring to the table…our unwillingness to surrender. Surrender to the Divine, to fate, to “what’s meant to be.” Why do we fight it? I don’t know why. I don’t know why I fight it. Because I can say, without a shred of doubt, that some of the greatest people I have ever known, and some of the greatest lessons I have ever learned, now live in perfectly suspended memories. The relationships have gone on into space, circulating around, their magical little particles separating and recycling into new relationships between other human beings.
Sometimes no tangible person, no relationship right in front of you, can fill you with the same certainty as a memory. As the revisiting in your mind’s eye of experience long since had. When time is no barrier and your vision is crystal clear. When you can see a person’s purpose in your life, why your paths intersected, why they’re chapter overlapped with yours…when you can identify the authenticity and clarity you gathered from having been you while they were them, from having been those two people in that time, together…that’s when the sighing value sinks in. The moment when you know the puzzle of your life fits perfectly today for having spilled out and sorted your pieces then.